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Here's what's happening in accessibility news. We provide these news briefs for your information and convenience, and we don't endorse or recommend any of these publications or products. Check back for updates every weekday.

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New window: Top 20 Innovative Assistive Technology Start-ups

February 27, 2023, PC Quest: Read the list here.

New window: WHO distributes assistive technology tools to older people and people living with disabilities in cooperation with local NGO

February 26, 2023, Relief Web: In its continuous efforts to extend health services to those most in need, the World Health Organization (WHO) has just begun distributing assistive technology and adaptive tools procured within a project co-funded by WHO, the European Union, and the Government of Canada, in line with the goal to achieve Health for All by All. The project, Improving access to inclusive healthcare services for the elderly and people living with disabilities during COVID-19 in Iran, was launched in 2021 and is set to provide 1000 assistive technology tools for 961 identified individuals across 15 provinces, prioritizing low-income households and people with severe disabilities, including refugees.

New window: Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs): What To Know

February 24, 2023, Forbes: Approximately 30 million people ages 12 and over in the U.S. have hearing loss in both ears, and 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from the use of hearing aids, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders[1]. Hearing loss can be inherited or caused by disease, trauma, medication or aging. Fortunately, assistive listening devices can help a person with hearing loss detect sounds and understand speech. What’s more, they can function either complementary to or used instead of hearing aids.

New window: Show Me the Money — and Digital Experience: Bank Websites Get UX Test

February 24, 2023, CMS Wire: S banks must improve digital user friendliness and accessibility to differentiate themselves and better serve digitally savvy customers.

New window: WHO–Ukraine event on rehabilitation, assistive technology and disability inclusion in conflict

February 24, 2023, World Health Organization: On 7 March, WHO/Europe, the WHO Country Office in Ukraine and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine will host a public event highlighting truly urgent issues: people’s rehabilitation needs, disability inclusion, and the use of assistive technology in the context of the health response to the ongoing war. Participants will include WHO experts, rehabilitation experts, and representatives from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Office of the President of Ukraine. They will discuss how WHO and health authorities have been collaborating in this critical area since the outbreak of war on 24 February 2022.

New window: Isaac Junior Salvant Explains Website Optimization – Why It Matters and How to Get Started

February 24, 2023, DownBeach: Search engine optimization (SEO) is an organic approach to generating natural traffic to a site by getting it ranked higher than competing websites. It’s rooted in an understanding that most people only click the first few pages listed on Google, Bing, or any other search engine. By getting ranked within the top three or four results, Isaac Junior Salvant says that businesses can drive a larger portion of the digital traffic to increase their conversions. However, SEO is a competitive strategy that positions every site against each other. For this reason, it’s become a sort of science dedicated to improving content, identifying common keywords, and presenting information in a straightforward and easy-to-understand format. This also includes considerations for accessibility.

New window: UNC students camp out in call for more accessibility

February 24, 2023, WRAL News: After getting stuck for 32 hours in a dorm room, UNC students who use wheelchairs camped out for 32 hours in front of the Chancellor's Office.

New window: California-Based Antelope Valley College Expands Accessibility with Addition of YuJa Panorama to Serve More than 18,000 Students

February 24, 2023, Business Wire: YuJa Panorama replaces the college’s previous digital accessibility tool to provide a comprehensive, streamlined approach to delivering accessible, engaging video and media content to students. In addition, YuJa Panorama will help course creators pinpoint and correct accessibility issues, as well as improve the learning experience by driving inclusivity as a key and measurable objective. The platform uses market-leading artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to automatically generate accessible versions of all uploaded documents and provides users with customized website accessibility profiles that can be applied to any webpage.

New window: OPINION: Adam Bartrom: Check if your website is ADA-compliant

February 24, 2023, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly: Online shopping seems to be at an all-time high. Just a few clicks of a button on your phone or computer results in a package being at your front door in just a few days, sometimes within hours. This means that many companies are looking to utilize their website to enhance and increase sales. But in the haste to compete, many companies forget to ask themselves one key question — is our website in compliance with the ADA? That’s right, while most employers are aware the ADA require public places to be accessible to those with disabilities (i.e., parking spaces, ramps, curbs and bathrooms), few are aware that this obligation can extend to the company website. Here is what you need to know to get started in this area.

New window: California bill would help define digital accessibility and limit damages

February 24, 2023, Lexology: A proposed amendment to California’s Civil and Government Codes would limit the recovery of statutory damages in connection with certain digital accessibility claims, while also requiring certain government agencies to educate covered entities on their obligations to make their websites and mobile apps accessible under California law. The accessibility amendments are proposed in Assembly Bill 950 (A.B. 950), sponsored by California Assembly member Brian Maienschein (D). The proposals address business concerns while incorporating flexibility that may benefit the disability community.

New window: After a Decade of Noncompliance, DOJ Issues Report on Federal Website Accessibility

February 23, 2023, NextGov: The release of the Justice Department’s first Section 508 report since 2012 comes after lawmakers raised bipartisan concerns about agencies’ continued inability to meet federal technology accessibility standards.

New window: Listen Technologies’ wi-fi and RF assistive listening systems installed at Lutcher Theater

February 23, 2023, BlooLoop: Listen Technologies, a provider of assistive listening, multi-language audio transmission and live streaming audio solutions, has announced that its Listen EVERYWHERE and ListenRF assistive listening systems have been installed at The Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts in Orange, Texas, US. Enabling audiences to fully enjoy the theatrical experience, the technologies will aid in improving the hearing of guests, performers, and crew, already receiving positive feedback from customers. As interference from the 1,500-seat theatre’s LED screens increased, Lutcher Theater chose to replace its 30-year-old infrared assistive listening system. For the benefit of Lutcher Theater patrons and to give them a choice for the best-individualised experience, Full Compass, a national leader in the supply of pro audio, video, and lighting equipment based in Madison, Wisconsin, suggested Listen Technologies’ Wi-Fi and radio frequency (RF) assistive listening systems.

New window: AB 950: Internet Website Accessibility

February 23, 2023, The California Globe: On February 14, 2023, Assembly Bill 950 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) was introduced to address internet website accessibility. AB 950 would add Civil Code Section 55.565 and would amend Government Code Sections 4469.5 and 14985.6. Section 1 of the bill would amend the heading of Part 2.53 of Division 1 of the Civil Code so that Part 2.53 is called “Attorney’s Fees and Statutory Damages in Accessibility Standards Claims.” Section 2 of the bill would add Civil Code Section 55.565 to provide that statutory damages can only be recovered against an entity based upon the inaccessibility of an internet website of that entity if the internet website fails to provide equally effective communication or facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to the public, including any member of the public who is disabled. In order for a plaintiff to obtain statutory damages for internet website inaccessibility, a plaintiff must prove either that (1) the plaintiff personally encountered a barrier that interfered with their ability to access all or part of the entity’s internet website, and caused the plaintiff to experience a difference in their ability to access or use the website as compared to other users; or, (2) the plaintiff must have been unable to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, or enjoy the same services with substantially equivalent ease of use, or to have the same level of privacy and independence as other users who are not disabled.

New window: Greenfield launches new website with goal of improving usability

February 22, 2023, Greenfield Recorder: The city launched a new website this week, designed with an eye toward improved usability and accessibility.

New window: Disability Rights : Supreme Court Invites Suggestions From Persons With Disability & Rights Activists On Improving Accessibility

February 21, 2023, Live Law: The Committee headed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has the mandate to conduct an accessibility audit extending to both physical as well as functional ac

New window: Iowa Department for the Blind Selects Tyler Technologies' Vocational Rehabilitation Solution

February 21, 2023, Investors Observer: Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) announced it has signed an agreement with the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) for Tyler’s Vocational Rehabilitation solution. Tyler’s application includes case management for IDB participants, support for IDB providers, and Federal compliance reporting, along with online access for participants and providers through the Tyler Access module. The application will support both the IDB’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Programs. “At IDB, we believe that all Iowans can lead productive, fulfilling lives – including those who happen to be blind or low vision. We support and encourage independent living and full participation in life – at home, at work, and in communities,” said Emily Wharton, director, IDB. “We are thrilled to advance this mission by investing in Tyler’s Vocational Rehabilitation solution. The solution will allow us to create efficiencies for our staff so they can truly focus on caring for and serving our community.”

New window: What are Related Services?

February 21, 2023, Special Education Action: Pay attention, because you might live in an area that doesn’t proactively propose related services in compliance with IDEA, Section 504, and/or implementing state regulations. Too often, my experience has been that if you don’t know to ask, they won’t be proposed. Related services are supports required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. This could be transportation to tutoring sessions, work with a speech therapist, assistive technology training for the parent and student, training parents to use sign language, providing special training to teachers working with students, and much more.

New window: Legacy Automaker Ford Embraces The Car’s Future With Accessible, Inclusive BlueCruise Technology

February 21, 2023, Forbes: Although autonomous driving technology has become synonymous with companies such as Tesla and Waymo, the truth is competition to drive this space is fast and furious. Count captain of the auto industry Ford as one of those contestants. The venerable Michigan-based automobile maker recently won acclaim from Consumer Reports for its BlueCruise driver assist software, with Mike Monticello writing late last month it’s “equal parts eerie and amazing” to experience Ford’s driving tech, adding similar systems like Tesla’s Autopilot has “[fallen to the middle of the pack] as other high-tech systems improve.” In his review, Monticello gives readers a cogent explanation of what BlueCruise does. He describes it as a “active driving assistance,” or ADA, system that essentially controls a car’s cruise control and lane centering assistance programs. BlueCruise (and its ilk) are relatively new technology, and not at all self-driving in the KITT in Knight Rider sense. It’s more akin to human versus machine, but with a more collaborative spirit. The human is ultimately in charge of the vehicle. “[ADA systems like Ford’s] don’t make a car self-driving at all,” Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, said in an interview for Monticello’s piece. “Instead, they create a new way of collaboratively driving with the computers in your car. When automakers do it the right way, it can make driving safer and more convenient. When they do it the wrong way, it can be dangerous.”

New window: 16 Effective Tips For Building A User-Friendly Mobile Website Or App

February 21, 2023, Forbes: But the secret to succeeding on mobile is complicated; designing a user-friendly experience for the variety of mobile products on the market requires considering everything from screen sizes to device capability to accessibility (and beyond). Below, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share their tips to help companies ensure their mobile apps and websites provide an optimal UI and UX and help users do exactly what they’re looking to do.

New window: Harrisburg University e-sports team to test out new revolutionary earbud technology

February 20, 2023, Fox 43: The NAQI earbud, developed by Canadian-based Naqi Logix, allows people to use a computer or play a video game in a hands-free or voice-free manner.
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